Gage Enters "Dante's Inferno"

In February, EA and Visceral Games will be unveiling their spin on Dante Alighieri's classic "Inferno," when "Dante's Inferno" is released for the PS3, PSP and Xbox 360. In the game, players will take on the role of Dante and descend into the Nine Circles of Hell to try and save the soul of his lover Beatrice. Much like last year's "Dead Space" property, EA is taking "Dante's Inferno" into other forms of media as well. In addition to both an animated and live-action film adaptation, "Dante's Inferno" is also receiving the comic treatment. A six-issue "Dante's Inferno" miniseries is being published by WildStorm, and the first issue will arrive in comic shops on December 9th.

To handle the writing duties on "Dante's Inferno," WildStorm brought in Christos Gage, who is himself a veteran of television, film and comics. CBR recently got a chance to ask Gage about what attracted him to the series, and how the story he's crafting will tie into the upcoming game.

CBR News: Christos, what was it about Visceral's interpretation of Dante's "Inferno" that drew you to this project?

Christos Gage: They could have gone for a very traditional approach that imitated other games out there, but they really went out of their way to craft original interpretations of the source material. Characters of myth like Charon, Cerberus and Minos were all given very cool new spins. I wanted to explore the world they built...it's as simple as that.

What do you feel is unique about the process of working on a game tie-in, and have you worked on one like this before?

I once collaborated with Jim Lee on an animated webisode about Lara Croft, but this is my first strict game-to-comic adaptation. What's different is that you work off the game script. You want to give fans of the game a recognizable story set in the world they know, without simply re-hashing the game they presumably either just played or will play soon. It's an enjoyable challenge...I always like testing different writing muscles.

Since you'll be introducing Visceral's vision of Dante and the world of "Inferno" to fans , did you feel any added pressure in writing the series?

Not until now! Thanks a lot!

How does the storyline of this series tie into the game?

It's interesting, because in many comic adaptations of video games you see prequels, or sequels, or side stories about game characters. But with "Dante's Inferno," we felt like it would be a cheat not to tell the story of Dante's journey through Hell. However, we also didn't want to just rehash the game, as I already mentioned. So while the overall quest is the same as the game's, wherever possible. we are trying to branch out and explore new facets of it. For instance, we get a lot more into the thoughts and feelings of Beatrice, the woman Dante loves and is trying to save. We see things from her point of view, understand why she makes certain choices. If we do our jobs right, the comic will be complementary to the game in the best sense, and gamers may get some insights into the game that non-readers of the comic aren't privy to.

Had you read the original "Inferno" prior to writing this series?

I know I was assigned it at some point in school. I have a feeling the "Cliffs Notes" got read instead, however. I've read parts of it, specific passages. But I wouldn't want to be quizzed on it!

What do you think it is about "Inferno" that still makes it resonate with people 700 years after its creation?

It really defined our version of Hell in so many ways. People who don't even know there was a poem called "The Divine Comedy" picture Hell the way Dante Alighieri described it, simply because it's such a part of our consciousness. Maybe it's the way sinners are punished according to their sin...I don't know, but something about it definitely struck a chord in our universal psyche.

How closely did you work with Visceral during this project?

Pretty closely. I went up to the EA campus in San Francisco with WildStorm's Hank Kanalz, and we got to play an in-progress version of the game, as well as see all the designs. They've sent me the script and any designs I need. What's great is that they are very supportive of Diego Latorre, our artist, using his own style and interpretation - which is cool because he's such a unique and brilliant talent - but at the same time we're all working to make the comic feel true to the game.

What is something that fans will see in the comic that they won't find in the game?

Certain characters that didn't make it into the game but are mentioned in the poem do show up in the comic. I don't want to spoil anything, but some of them will give Dante a tough time, like the Minotaur.

Of the Nine Circles of Hell, is there one in particular that you find the most interesting to write about?

Gluttony. Because I have a feeling there may be a seat reserved for me there. I actually find Limbo quite interesting to write about, because it's there we see the Unbaptized Babies, the poet Virgil, and others who are denied Heaven really through no fault of their own. Either they pre-dated Christ or didn't live long enough to be formally inducted into the Church. But in Dante's worldview, that still got them denied Paradise. But it's not hopeless. Redemption is a major theme in the game, the comic and the poem.

How avid a gamer are you, personally, and what is your favorite genre to unwind with when you're not writing?

I am not as avid a gamer as I used to be because I get a bit too avid when I'm playing. When I get a new game I play it obsessively until I finish it. Work, my marriage, personal hygiene...they all go by the wayside. As a result, I try to practice restraint as far as games go, and when I do indulge, I go for things like "Madden," where you can play a single football game in a short time rather than spend months trying to escape Hell. Of course, when "Dante's Inferno" comes out, I'll have to get it...for "research purposes."

For more information about the series, head over to www.dccomics.com/wildstorm. The "Dante's Inferno" game will be arriving on February 9, 2010. You can visit the game's official website at www.dantesinferno.com.

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